Cargill targets zero deforestation as part of SDG alignment for cocoa sourcing

Food and agricultural company Cargill has updated its sustainable cocoa sourcing strategy to align with the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to boost farmer prosperity, reduce environmental impacts and enhance the traceability of its supply chain.

Cargill’s Cocoa Promise initiative has so far provided more than 145,000 farmers globally with training, resources and market access to build sustainable and resilient growing practices. In order to enhance these methods further, the initiative will now align itself with the SDGs.

“Supporting smallholder farmers to build more resilient and sustainable businesses has been at the core of our own cocoa and chocolate business ethos for over two decades,” Cargill’s president for cocoa and chocolate Harold Poelma said.

“But the challenges smallholder farmers face have changed – and our strategy has evolved accordingly. Using the learnings and insights gathered over the years, we have charted a course for the future impact of the Cargill Cocoa Promise.”

The Cargill Cocoa Promise works with almost 500 farmer organisations and cooperatives, and 85% of Cargill’s coca is sustainability sourced from farmers involved in these organisations. As part of the SDG alignment, Cargill has added five 2030 goals to the initiative.

Cargill has vowed to strengthen the socio-economic resilience of one million cocoa farmers by 2030, all while eliminating child labour in its supply chain. The food company will work towards zero-deforestation in its supply chain and ensure 100% farmer-to-plant traceability and 100% sustainable sourcing for cocoa bean and chocolate ingredients. Finally, Cargill will enrol in collaborative partnerships to achieve a sector-level transformation.

Progress to date

The company can already point to progress across a few of these areas. In 2016, Cargill provided one-to-one coaching for farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, which increased average yields by 49%. By working with humanitarian organisation CARE, Cargill helped more than 4,000 people across 175 villages obtain loans to start their own businesses.

As for child labour, Cargill has trained more than 145,000 farmers to understand the worst forms of child labour, and 20,000 children have been given access to education and healthcare. Cargill is using GPS mapping at more than 56,000 farms to improve traceability, while risk assessments of 2.3 million hectares of forest have been conducted in an effort to eliminate deforestation.

“Achieving the SDGs demands a common approach, making use of new innovations and working with partners across the sector to achieve our common ambition of a more sustainable cocoa sector overall. We believe our global goals will help accelerate this sector-wide shift, to the benefit of all stakeholders involved,” Cargill’s director of sustainability for cocoa and chocolate Taco Terheijden added.

Cargill recently forged a new partnership with global research organisation World Resources Institute (WRI) to improve the sustainability of its supply chain, with a particular focus on deforestation and water risk.

The company also stated its commitment to developing an action plan to end deforestation and forest degradation in supply chains, alongside 11 other leading cocoa and chocolate companies.

Matt Mace

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